"YOUCA exists thanks to young people"

YOUCA, the youth organisation, known as the Zuiddag until 2016, has a new coordinator: Jolien Vanden Wyngaert. We spoke with her about her vision and the future of YOUCA.

Hello Jolien, how do you feel about taking over from YOUCA’s founder, Ellen Dereymaeker?

It’s a great honour because it feels like she is making me responsible for her offspring. Over the past year, YOUCA initiated a comprehensive project with the help of the King Baudouin Foundation. So, it’s the perfect time to join the organisation. In fact, we really know who we are now and what objectives we have in mind.

How did you end up at YOUCA?

Previously, I travelled a varied path. I have taught, worked in an art’s centre, carried out research at the University of Louvain, collaborated in a municipal council election campaign… I’ve also known YOUCA for some time now. And, I’ll be able to make use of all of my experience and knowledge in the varied duties working as coordinator. 

How do you see YOUCA evolving?

I want to continue to work on the youth work participation, which appealed to me from the very start. Because we are a youth organisation that exists thanks to young people. I would really like to involve more youth from the south in our projects. Today, young people from the north decide which projects are supported in the south. However, young people we know from the south from previous projects can also have a greater say in this. By the way, this is an idea of the young people themselves, fantastic isn't it!

How will the YOUCA Action Day change? 

First of all, we want to appeal to even more participants for the YOUCA Action Day. We're aiming at 25,000 young people participating by 2020. Our new job bank will certainly help us with that: young people and schools can subscribe and employers can post jobs. To us, the YOUCA Action Day continues to be a tremendously important event as it enables us to raise money for our projects in the south, and since this year in the north as well. 

What does YOUCA Action Day look like this year?

Our partner in the south this year is Trias, an international NGO working in El Salvador. They stimulate entrepreneurial spirit and self-confidence in young people. We will collectively consider the challenge of how we can improve our support of young people in seizing opportunities in El Salvador and Belgium. In July and October, we will organise exchanges between young people of El Salvador and Belgium. They will elaborate the project in co-creation. At the same time, we want to start some initiatives in Belgium focused on the same theme where the goal is to work on impact and engagement. 

And projects in the north are also scheduled?

Yes, that is correct. A smaller part of the money collected on YOUCA Action Day will go to some projects in Belgium. Our youth chose 7 projects with the same challenge as Trias in El Salvador: 'from dreams to opportunities'. I am really looking forward to this. 

On behalf of the Collibri Foundation, I wish you lots of success!

This year, the YOUCA Action Days is on 19 October.

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